Saturday, August 23, 2008

Summer reading - France 2008

Sepulchre – Kate Mosse

This is a formulaic book designed to reap the rewards of its highly successful predecessor – Labyrinth. Set in the same area of Languedoc and split over two time periods, it seems to follow the previous successful recipe. Although I enjoyed reading it (and it was easy enough to read on holiday), I could never get over the feeling that I’d read it before (so like Labyrinth). The plot considers special Tarot and Cathare treasure, with the occasional appearance of Labyrinth characters. It revolves around actions in Paris before moving down to Renne Les Bains, about 25 mile south of Carcassonne. Easy reading, hard to get lost. Not as good as the predecessor.

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

This was an excellent read. At last a new, cliché free plot. Told in the style of a first person narrative (after a third person introduction) it is the story of a sixteen year old Hindu/vegetarian Indian boy emigrating, with his family to Canada. Their ship sinks – and the story moves into uncharted waters (that’s a cliché!).

It’s a lovely read: there is lots of religion, death, cannibalism (not all of it animal on animal) and lots of joy. Nothing is ever what it seems. I recommend this to anyone as a diversion from the usual holiday pap.

The Alchemist’s Secret – Scott Mariani

This is reputedly Scott’s first book. Yet, it seems to me whilst whistling through it, that it was a cynical, formulaic attempt to cash in on the recent spate of Da Vinci Code/Labyrinth genre of holiday pap. (I enjoyed Da Vinci Code and I enjoyed Labyrinth)

It must be hard for someone to claim this as their first book and not be embarrassed. Don’t get me wrong, it was an easy read – ideal for reading in the sun (or inside by a roaring fire when it’s raining hard outside) but it was almost like reading a compendium of other books. For a start the main baddie is Vatican based (ish), the treasure trove is Cathare, the main setting is along the Limoux road immediately south of Carcassonne and in Montpellier (thereby showing that he’d looked at a map of Languadoc). The main goodie is a mean and moody ex-SAS chap who is as resourceful as Matt Damon in the Bourne Trilogy. He could be based on Matt Damon to be honest and the love interest (she’s a professor but seems to be very hairy fairy). Love scenes are twee (and unnecessary). Nice attempt but cynical pap.

English as a Second Language – Megan Crane (

Not nrmally being a consumer of 'chick-lit' books, I found this a refreshing no brainer. Betony had bought it in Atlanta arport when she and her mum were delayed there for 24 hours and both had finished reading it by the time they got back. I similarly finished it in double quick time: But remained constantly entertaied.

The story of a mid-late twenties all American girl coming to England (I suspect York) to study for her Masters. Lots of booze and mooning over boys (men I suppose at this age?) and refresing views of our language. e.g. "alright?" .. being the idiomatic English version of "how are you today? Well I trust?"

Currently reading Holy Fools by Joanne Harris.